The Slippery Rock University men’s basketball team (2-1) suffered their first loss of the season to Gannon University (1-2) on Wednesday.
Gannon defeated SRU 64-51.The score was tied at the end of the first half at 26-26, and both teams looked to be evenly matched. However, Gannon outscored the Rock 38-25 in the second half in order to secure the victory.
“We let a lot of opportunities go by us in the second half, and we felt we should’ve had a lead at the end of the first half instead of it being tied up,” SRU head coach Kevin Reynolds said. “They got us on the offensive boards, and they shot over 50 percent from the field”
SRU started the same five players that they have in the first two games of the season. Senior forward Frank Holloway, junior guard Kelvin Goodwin, junior guard Jamal Gatali, sophomore forward Chaquille Pratt, and senior guard Antonio Butler have been the starters thus far.
As a team, SRU’s field goal percentage was 32.6 percent (15-46), and their three-point percentage was 33.3 percent (6-18).
“We had trouble getting organized,” Reynolds said. “Some of it was communication from myself. We have to do a better job in practice executing our offense.”
They shot 15-19 (78.9 percent) from the free throw line as well. Reynolds said free throws are vital to the teams success.
“Down the stretch, it’s going to be very important,” Reynolds said. “It’s been a focus of ours over the last week because we didn’t shooting them well against Glenville and Charleston. It’s a credit to the guys, because they’re putting some time in on their own.”
Reynolds said he always wants his team to be one of the top rebounding teams in the conference. In this game, Gannon held the edge in rebounding 33-28. Holloway was the high-scorer for SRU with 15 points (6-15) to go along with 10 rebounds and four turnovers.
“He did a great job in the first half on the glass,” Reynolds said in reference to Holloway. “I thought he played very well defensively as well in the post, but he’s also got to shoot a higher percentage from the field.”
Goodwin scored nine points (3-7) and had one rebound and two assists. Butler struggled in this game, and was unable to score. He went 0-8 from the field and had two rebounds and one assist. Junior center Cornelius Brown (11) and junior guard Malcolm Richardson (8) came off the bench and added 19 points. The rest of the Green and White combined to score eight points, including five from junior forward Erik Raleigh and three from Gatali.
“I think they keyed in on him after the week he had and got him out of his comfort zone,” Reynolds said in reference to Butler. “They forced him into some tough shots, and kept him away from the hoop. Antonio’s really good at getting to the basket, and they kept him from doing that.”
Gannon had a field goal percentage of 49.0 percent (25-51) and shot 54.5 percent (6-11) from the three point line. SRU edged Gannon in free throws, with the Golden Knights shooting 8-13 (61.5%) from behind the line. Adam Blazek was the high-scorer for Gannon with 20 points (6-12) to go along with four assists and one rebound. Girbran Smith and Rich Austin each chipped in 11 points. Gannon shared the ball slightly more than the Rock with 13 assists to SRU’s eight.
Defensively, SRU and Gannon were even in blocks and steals with one and six respectively. SRU forced 16 turnovers, while Gannon forced 15 turnovers.
“We took too many chances and took some bad angles on guys defensively,” Reynolds said. “We didn’t do a good job in the second half guarding them.”
SRU’s next game is their home opener against the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown (2-0) on Saturday at 7:30 in Morrow Field House. Reynolds said his team needs to play at a much higher level in order for them to win the game on Saturday.
“We have to get back to playing our style of basketball,” Reynolds said. “All facets need to improve for us to be successful on Saturday.”